This article started life as a review of Plextor’s PlexWriter 40/12/40U external CD-R/RW drive, but no sooner had we finished playing with that than Plextor announced an even faster model, the PlexWriter 48/24/48U. The differences between the two are minimal – just the drive mechanism – so whether you’re interested in the 40/12/40U or the 48/24/48U, the information here will be relevant.
As you’d expect, the difference in the names relates to the performance of the two drives. The 40/12/40U can read and write at 40-speed and re-write at 12-speed, while the 48/24/48U can… well, to state the obvious it can read and write at 48-speed and re-write at 24-speed. This is quite a performance difference, at least for the re-write mechanism. In practice, few people will notice the difference between 40-speed and 48-speed, especially as the both drives are clever enough to vary their read/write speeds to take account of potential errors.
The drive we reviewed was housed in an external silver-coloured metal case; quite a stylish one, actually. It looks as though some thought has gone into the design. At the back there’s an on/off switch, a USB 2.0 connection for the host PC – you can use older USB 1.1 ports instead but performance will suffer – and left and right audio output connectors. There’s also a socket for the supplied mains transformer.
While the casing is silver, the drive mechanism itself is black. This looks good as a contrast to the silver case, but has a more practical application too, in that it helps prevent reflected laser light from interfering with the read/write process. To further assist the write process, there’s a BURN-proof mechanism to prevent buffer under-runs, plus Plextor’s PowerRec II system which varies the writing speed as necessary to suit the media being used.
As well as a pack of blank CD-R discs and one CD-RW disc, the box includes the necessary USB cable plus some utility software, Nero 5.5 CD authoring software and InCD for packet writing. The drive has a self-test switch at the back and can be flash upgraded if necessary.
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